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Monday, October 25, 2004

The recent "Walking" fad

While India and Australia are battling out in the heat and humidity in the current Test match series, an interesting thing that is happening and which is creating a small storm of controversy by itself, is the latest fad of "Walking" in test cricket, led by a bunch of Australian cricketers (can't believe it, eh ? ) and also by a handful of Indian cricketers. "Walking" is the art of a batsman "to proclaim himself out without waiting for the umpire's decision" - of course, it is a perfectly honest thing to do - but then, one must remember that this is modern-day cricket where the stakes are high and so is the competition for your place in the team.

Despite all this, there have been some cricketers, who constantly have followed the moto to walk - Adam Gilchrist is probably the best example amongst the modern day cricketers. In the high pressure game of the World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka, he "walked" although there had been so conclusive proof that he was out. Australia won the match nevertheless but he ended up receiving quite a bit of flak from the Australian media. Nevertheless, Gilchrist has been true to himself and he seems to have rubbed that character off onto some of his colleagues in the current series, namely Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasparowich. The Indians, not to be left behind, have followed suit - Yuvraj walked without even looking at the umpire and so did Patel. But all this begs a point - at what cost are you going to do this ?

I think that has been the subject of debate all over the world - former England captain Mike Atherton calls it "Australian hypocrisy". This has been seconded by other former Australian greats Ian Chappel and Bill Lawry. Even some current Indian cricketers such as Mohammad Kaif have joined the debate and have categorically stated that they wouldn't walk by themselves and that it was the responsibility of the umpires to give them out.

Of course, in the end, it all boils down to a personal decision. On one hand, there is the true emperical rule to play the game in the "true spirit" and on the other hand, there is the hard truth to "win at any cost". What do you think about this ? - send me an email or post your comments.

Cheers,
Thyaga